Barbecue, raffle raise money for lung transplant

ALBANY, Ga. -- The family of an Albany man in need of a double-lung transplant is continuing fundraising efforts to raise money for his medical care.

Among these is a barbecue taking place today, followed by a lawn mower raffle on Aug. 3 to help with a cause that likely is his only chance of survival.

Eddie Etheridge suffers from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung disease that has since put him out of work. Through an account with Help Hope Live, his family has been collecting funds by various means to help offset the costs necessary to re-gain his well-being, even after the anticipated transplant surgery.

"We are hoping he will be able to get back into the work force," Rocky Etheridge, his nephew, said. "We hope. We don't know."

Today at 11 a.m., there is a barbecue lunch taking place at Lawn Performance -- located at 2814 Wilmar Lane -- at $6 a plate to help get people in to buy tickets for a raffle to win a Grasshopper Model #124 mower.

The drawing for the raffle, also to take place at Lawn Performance, will be at noon on Aug. 3. Tickets to raffle off the $7,000 mower, which was donated by Grasshopper Mowers, are being sold at $20 a piece.

"Our goal is to sell 500 tickets," the younger Etheridge said.

There has been $4,500 raised for the Help Hope Live account set up for the hopeful 57-year-old lung transplant recipient. Add that to the costs of the medical bills and opening up the account, and the need to replenish it is constant, his nephew said.

The most recent efforts to raise funds come at a time when there might not be a lot of time left.

"A matching donor has not come along," Rocky Etheridge said. "His health is deteriorating very rapidly; he has to have oxygen just to get into the shower. Some days are better than others.

"The folks over at the Mayo Clinic asked him if we would take less than a perfect match. At this point, he told them yes. Depending on how much longer this goes on, we don't know how much (his health care will cost)."

Rocky Etheridge, who was able to help coordinate the raffle with the assistance of a close friend, said he is hoping to raise as much as he can.

"It's imperative to maintain money in the account and maintain his insurance and medications," he said. "We are hoping to raise money to boost the account; we are just taking it one day at a time.

"I'm proud to raise any nickel I can."

Those who cannot to make it to the barbecue will be also be able to purchase tickets at Lawn Performance, at All-American Fun Park at 2608 N. Slappey Blvd. or by contacting Rocky Etheridge at (229) 881-9743.

For more on Eddie Etheridge's story, visit www.helphopelive.org.